The Best Things to Do on Naxos: A Greek Island Guide

Last updated on:
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

The trip notes given to me at the beginning of my Intrepid Tour tour through the Greek Islands referred to the island of Naxos as “the largest and most fertile of the Cycladic Islands.” It told me that I could expect to find “picturesque villages, Byzantine churches, lush valleys, ancient citrus groves, and wonderful beaches.”

It all sounded a bit embellished to me, to be honest.

So I went to Naxos feeling slightly skeptical, unsure of what I would actually find. What does the “most fertile” island in the Cyclades mean, anyway? All the others I had seen had been brown, brown, brown. I could hardly picture a “lush” one.

In the end, the description WAS a bit embellished. There were no jungles overflowing with greenery, and I didn't visit any beaches in Naxos that were any more beautiful than those I visited on other islands.

But you know what? It WAS greener. And it DID have picturesque old villages and ancient citrus (and olive) groves.

Greenery on Naxos

Overall, Naxos took me by surprise. In fact, I now list it as one of my favorite Greek Islands, and think it's definitely worth adding to your Greek Islands itinerary.

The best things to do on Naxos

As the largest island in the Cyclades, there's actually quite a bit to do on Naxos. But, since Naxos relies on agriculture just as much as (if not moreso than) tourism, not all of these things to do are super touristy. But that's what makes this island feel different to, say, Santorini or Mykonos.

1. Climb to the Venetian castle in Naxos town

Venetian castle, Naxos
Views from the castle

Yes, the Venetians once built castles and fortresses all over Greece – and many of them are still standing. The castle in Naxos is at the top of town; an easy walk from the waterfront and kind of cool to see. There's a museum up there, too, though it wasn't open when I visited. 

Naxos town
Walking up to the castle

Another thing you can do at the castle (and probably the most popular thing to do) is to see a bouzouki concert – a show of live traditional Greek music and dancing. I highly recommend doing this on Naxos!

Greek bouzouki on Naxos
Bouzouki concert at the castle

2. Watch a sunset at the Unfinished Temple of Apollo

Another popular thing to do in Naxos town is to watch the sun set behind the Portara, the ancient entrance to an unfinished temple dedicated to the god Apollo. The “gate” faces directly toward Delos, Apollo's birthplace, and is basically the only remnant of the temple still standing from the 6th century.

Temple of Apollo, Naxos
The Portara at Golden Hour

The temple sits on a little island connected to Naxos by a causeway and is by far the most popular spot to catch a sunset from.

Naxos sunset

3. Visit villages like Halki and Apeiranthos

Naxos is much bigger than the other Greek Islands that I visited. And it has mountains! Mountains topped with tiny white churches that I could not imagine reaching on foot in the searing Greek sun.

I got to see these mountains up close as I rode various buses through them to visit some of the island's mountain villages.

Halki village, Naxos
You can't beat village views like this!

I chose to visit both Apeiranthos and Halki. Halki is much more tourist-friendly (and has a kitron distillery), while Apeiranthos is clearly an aging village, full of many abandoned and crumbling buildings.

Both are interesting and worth a visit, though.

Apiranthos, Naxos
Souvenir shop in Halki
Kitron distillery in Halki, Naxos
Greek kitty in Halki, Naxos
Making friends with a Greek kitty
Apeiranthos village, Naxos
Aging beauty in Apeiranthos

4. Check out the Temple of Dimitra

Naxos has a few other ancient things on it, including the ruins of Dimitra's Temple. I would recommend perhaps seeing this site on a larger tour of notable sites on Naxos, however, as it's a bit difficult to get to if you don't have a rental car.

Temple of Dimitra, Naxos
Temple of Dimitra
Dimitra's Temple, Naxos

5. Visit beaches on Naxos

Naxos is known for its pretty beaches – and, being a larger island, it has no dearth of sandy spots.

Popular beaches on Naxos include Agia Anna Beach (a long, sandy beach great for windsurfing), Plaka Beach (a sandy and relaxing beach where nudity is allowed), Agios Prokopis Beach (the most popular on the island, known for its dunes), and Agios Georgios Beach (the shallow, family-friendly beach right in Naxos town).

St. George Beach, Naxos
Agios Georgios Beach

What makes Naxos special

The fact that Naxos doesn't focus solely on tourism means that you can get away from all of that quite easily. Heading up to the villages in the mountains was something very unique – and the part of my time on Naxos I think I will always remember best.

Up in the Naxos mountains

The practical stuff for visiting Naxos

WHERE TO STAY — I stayed in a hotel within a 2-minute walk from Agios Georgios (Saint George) Beach. There are a ton of hotels in this part of Naxos town, all within walking distance of the beach in one direction and shopping and restaurants in the other.

WHERE TO EAT — Head to any of the tavernas along the waterfront if it's fresh seafood that you're after. You'll find fresh octopus drying on lines during the daylight hours, and decent deals at dinnertime.

Octopus on Naxos
Drying octopus on Naxos

GETTING AROUND — If you want to visit any of the villages up in the mountains (which I highly recommend!), you'll either need a car or a bus ticket. Buses to each village leave throughout the day from the main bus station in Naxos town, where you can also go to pick up a schedule. Ticket prices depend on where you're going (a round-trip ticket to Apiranthos, for example, will cost you 3.10 Euro).

Is Naxos an island that YOU would like to visit?

*Note: I visited Naxos as part of a complimentary Greek Islands tour from Intrepid Travel through my partnership with them. As always, though, opinions are entirely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

41 Comments on “The Best Things to Do on Naxos: A Greek Island Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. My sisters and I are going to Greece for 2 weeks the beginning of May and we are trying going to Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Ios for sure and are trying to decide if we should add either Syros or Naxos. Which did you prefer? Would you recommend adding one of them or should we just really enjoy the ones we have planned already? LOVE the pictures on your posts!!

      Syros is not touristy at all; a very sleepy island compared to the others you’ll be visiting. If you were going to add one more, I would probably add Naxos. But you could easily fill up 2 weeks with just Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Ios! I personally could probably spend 2 weeks just on Santorini alone!

      We loved Naxos and visited many times when we lived in Athens. Highly recommend it. Great island, big enough to explore, but also plenty to do if you just want to stay in Naxos-town and enjoy the beach. We were not so keen on Mykonos when we visited, but you can easily spend endless days on Santorini, too, and not regret a minute of it.

        I totally agree!

          Thanks guys! Maybe we’ll just plan to spend a couple extra days in Santorini then!

    Love, love Naxos! My wife and I traveled there as often as we could when we lived in Greece. Close favorite for us (Tinos is wonderful as well). We were there once over Easter and since everything was essentially shut for the holiday, we rented a car the night before and drove all over the island all day long during Easter, watching all the villages prep and cook for the feasts. It’s a laid back place, especially compared to some of the better known Cyclades. Needless to say, I’m a big fan!

      Awesome to hear, Jason! It’s certainly very different from some of its nearby neighbors. Your Easter drive sounds lovely!

    Naxos is my favourite Greek island so far (I have only been to 7, so not really conclusive!). I love that it’s not very touristy and the Old Town is so wonderful! This post has made me very jealous… I must go back and visit again soon!

      Well 7 is still pretty good, Lizzie! Glad to hear you enjoyed Naxos, too.

    Whoa, those squid/octopus things look crazy, so ugly for something that tastes so good. I’ve heard form some people that Naxos is their favourite Greek Island….it definitely looks great from these photos.

      A few of the people I was traveling with said Naxos was their favorite island of the 5 we visited. I myself can’t choose a favorite. I can understand why a lot of people like Naxos, though. Since it’s bigger, there’s a lot to do. And while it IS touristy, it’s a much more laid-back and family-friendly island. You won’t find as many partying backpackers here.

      (And I think the drying octopus looks cool!! Hence why I snapped so many photos. 😉 )

    With every new island post you make, I just get more jealous over how many you were actually able to visit! I can’t even decided anymore which one is my favorite.

      Haha, same here, Beth! I can’t possibly choose a favorite, because they are all so different!

      Two weeks to visit 5 islands was a nice time frame, I think. Though I definitely could have spent more time on a couple of them!

    I like the idea of an island that has other things going on besides tourism. Naxos looks beautiful!

      Naxos and Syros are both great options if you want something a little less touristy. Still awesome, though!

    The picture of the octopus confirms my aversion to creatures from the sea 🙂 Beautiful pictures although I think my favorites are the ones that feature bougainvillaea. All I need is a tree of that and a whitewashed house and I’m set.

      Hahaha. I tried some of that octopus on Naxos. It wasn’t bad, though definitely not my favorite seafood.

      I’m with you on the bougainvillea, though! I loved seeing it all over Greece.

    Naxos sounds amazingly good! Must say that you have captured the island to its best. Greece has something about it. Even the ruined, unfinished sites look so charming!

      Naxos was certainly enjoyable – and unlike any of the other islands I visited in Greece!

    That bike on the window is great. I can’t tell if it’s decorative, but if it’s on the first floor of a building, you can lock your bike there and never have to worry about tracking mud indoors. Genius!

      Haha, pretty sure that it was just decorative (it was kind of up on the side of the building, at head-height), but that IS a genius idea!

    I really loved all your Greek islands posts!! What a beautiful part of the world, and with such an interesting history too.

      Thank you, Rika! I’m really glad you liked this series of posts! I had fun putting them together.

    Love this post! I am presenting on Greek Tourism tomorrow! Just finished the power point and all!


    Well, I’ve said it before but your photos have just sealed the deal for me. I look forward to the day when we find ourselves in Greece! What time frame would you suggest to get the full experience of the islands? Would one month be enough?

      There are SO many islands to choose from. But I think a month would be plenty of time to get a taste of a handful of them (I visited 5 islands over a span of 2 weeks, but I would have liked more time on a couple of them).

    Looks wonderful! Must GO to the island of Naxos!

      I would recommend it! It’s not one of the most popular islands, but it has a LOT to see/do!

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On